Hit the road actors! And don’t you worry about a thing, a thing, a thing, a thing. Because these 10 tips will help you prepare for all types of on-location gigs.
INSIGHT FROM ACTOR SUSAN SLOTOROFF – WHO IS CURRENTLY PLAYING ROZ IN MOON OVER BUFFALO IN FLORIDA.
Tip # 1 – Welcome the unknown
Q: What was your biggest fear about traveling for work?
My biggest fear on my first (and consequent) out of town jobs is, for lack of a better term, the unknown. Unless you’ve worked at the location before, you are basically going in blind. Every away gig I’ve worked I went with little to no idea what to expect with housing, the company car, the rehearsal process, the area, and the cast/crew. I always worry about meeting new people, especially out of town because you are most likely living with the people you’re working with, so it’s a lot of together time. On the flip side, these are all reasons I like working out of town: the adventure, exploring a new place, meeting new people. Some of my best friends I’ve made on out of town contracts.
Tip # 2 – Get ready for paperwork
Q: Is the audition process any different when you’re trying for a traveling role?
The audition process is basically the same for an out of town show as it is for a local production. If anything is different it would be the paperwork at the audition or callback. They may want to know if you have a valid drivers license, a passport, etc. Scheduling is usually discussed as well. It’s more difficult to work around conflicts during the contract dates when you are on location.
Tip # 3 – Pack wisely
Q: Top items to take with you when acting on location?
Definitely bring Character Shoes if its theatre. Whether it’s a play or a musical, character shoes are important. You will want them for rehearsal and as an option for the costumer. On this job I brought both my tan and black LaDucas for rehearsal, and ended up wearing them in the show. (With the costumers consent of course.) I personally much prefer to wear my own shoes that are comfortable and broken in, especially for a long run. (And if you are thinking of investing in LaDucas… DO IT. Best purchase I ever made)
A laptop is definitely important to have on location. I also usually bring a little box with desk supplies… pens, pencils, post its, thank you cards, stamps, tape, scissors, stapler, some envelopes and a notebook. Also, some extra headshots and resumes and mailing envelopes.
For the ladies, I always bring show underwear: a nude convertible strap bra and some nude underwear to have for costuming. Oftentimes they will provide that, but it’s great to have something you know fits, will keep you covered, and won’t show through, as a backup if nothing else.
If you have any specific makeup you like to use, or if you have any skin sensitivities, definitely bring that with you too. You don’t want to spend your limited free time during tech week trying to find that special product.
Last, but definitely not least, bring your favorite tee shirt, sweatpants, pictures, and mementos from home. After a long day of rehearsals, nothing is going to make you feel better than snuggling into those favorite PJ’s. I have a few favorite quoteables cards and pictures that I bring for my dressing room station. It’s silly and small, but makes a big difference!
Tip # 4 – Keep submitting for jobs & networking
Q: Can you still submit for new work easily, while working in another location?
Absolutely! Especially with so much online, submitting is easy! It’s also great to research what projects and opportunities are around in the location you are in. I’m currently freelancing with an agent in Miami during my 3 months here. Now that the show is open, I’m available for auditions during the day, and if I can book a commercial or an industrial, it’s great for both of us! There are also local EPA’s that many cast members are travelling to together. If you bring headshots and resumes with you, you can always do mailings while you’re on location.
Tip # 5 – Enjoy the moment!
Q: What did you learn most, as an actor, by working on location?
I find working on location often re-energizes me as an actor. Even though I have a steady acting job while in the city, it’s easy to be pulled in a million different directions… auditioning, seeing shows, working, preparing, rehearsing… it never ends. Working on location offers the rare opportunity to focus only on the project at hand. All you have to worry about is doing the best job you can in the production. In a lot of ways it’s a paid vacation where you get to do what you love. In fact, my friends and I have dubbed working an out of town gig a showcation.
Susan Slotoroff is a New York City-based actress. Recent credits include Roz in Moon Over Buffalo, Catherine inThe Memory of Water, Maggie in Lend me a Tenor, and Eraine in the world premiere ofSeparation Rapid. She plays Abby on the second season of In Between Men, an official selection of the Raindance Film Festival in London, and the NYTVF. She played Kali in the independent feature Straight on till Morning, which was recently featured at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. www.Susan-Slotoroff.com
HERE ARE 5 MORE TIPS FROM CHRISTOPHER SCOTT GRIMALDI – A TELEVISION HOST, ACTOR, FILMMAKER, AND WRITER WHO IS ALWAYS READY FOR A TRAVEL ADVENTURE.
Tip # 6 – Get out of your comfort zone
Q: What is the most rewarding part of traveling for work?
The most rewarding part of working away from home for me – especially being a travel show host and therefore the guide to a place for an audience – is to get outside my normal comfort zone, engage with new people, and in many ways reconnect with my own performance voice in that environment. (And there is performance involved in hosting; you have to become your most cheerful energetic self, even through jet lag and sleeplessness.) This reconnecting to the self is of course true with any kind of travel, which is what makes it so appealing to people, but in doing it with such creative intensity and with the express goal of presenting that enthusiasm to others is very rewarding. As an adventure host, I particularly love new challenges – for instance, conquering a fear of heights by bungy (correct spelling in New Zealand) jumping off a bridge or rock climbing hundreds of feet over the Columbia River. That’s pretty rewarding, too.
Tip # 7 – Ask questions
Q: What do you wish you asked beforehand?
Because I have done a lot of traveling that wasn’t work-related in my lifetime, I had a pretty good sense of what to expect in a travel experience. Of course, when working for a producer (no matter where), you always want to get as many details as possible, so you can make appropriate plans, bring what you think you’ll need, etc. I always feel it’s important for the production team to keep the talent in the loop, but it’s especially important when travel is involved. As an actor, you don’t want to worry about anything but your performance, which isn’t just an internal thing. On top of the confidence that security in your schedule provides, you need to be prepared with proper wardrobe for the conditions (if it’s not provided) and makeup if there isn’t an artist on hand (which can happen on ultra-low budget productions). In some places you’ll be able to purchase any items you need, but in other, more remote places, like the Australian Outback, you’re just not going to be able to get anything you didn’t bring beforehand. In the end, the more you know about the conditions of the shoot, the better prepared you are, and therefore the smoother your experience will always be.
Tip # 8 – Stress may be higher than usual
Q: What don’t actors realize about acting on location?
While it depends on the level of the production, the thing I think actors (including myself – particularly before having more experience) don’t realize about acting in a strange location, is that very often there’s a different level of stress on the crew. Working in a new place, especially outside the country, creates a multitude of unexpected issues. Beyond the basic stress of being away from loved ones, it may be something as simple as not having the proper power adaptor to run lights to not knowing what the weather conditions will be. Of course, the best producers research and plan for such contingencies, but no one can prepare for everything and the further away one is from civilization, the more likely problems will arrive. So as an actor you should be able to adapt to these conditions and not create any more problems for the production. If you are the kind of talent that needs to be pampered, you are not the person a producer wants to work with in extreme and uncertain conditions.
Tip # 9 – Bring some extra cash
Q: Are there any expenses that you didn’t count on?
Because the production usually takes care of all basic travel costs, the biggest personal expense will be either alcohol (should you enjoy your cocktails with a meal or without … responsibly, of course) or, in my case, money spent on touristy things such as excursions and souvenirs. For instance, in Australia, I decided to spend a day off by diving the Great Barrier Reef. Not an inexpensive trip, but worth every penny. And of course, you can’t return home from any great trip without souvenirs for loved ones. (However, if you’re shooting an indie film in a place like, say, West Virginia, as I’ve done, no one really expects you to bring back a didgeridoo … or even a lump of coal.) In addition, for international locations an actor needs to consider what cell phone plan he has and whether the location is covered or they have to pay an additional fee. And finally, he may have to pay for wifi in the hotel if he wants to email or keep everyone abreast of what he’s doing via social media. (Although, frankly, being completely off the grid can be great for nurturing creativity!)
Tip # 10 – Be ready to emotionally support yourself!
Q: Biggest difference between acting in a project at home versus on location?
For some people the biggest difference between acting at home and on location is always going to be the separation from loved ones. And while, as I mentioned, very often being away can nurture creativity, for some the absence of the emotional stability a loved one’s support provides can have a profound effect on their efforts to go into new emotional ground as an actor. I suppose it all depends on the person and their process … as well as the project itself. For me, the price is usually worth the personal and creative growth travel affords, so I try to be ready to travel at the drop of a hat!
Christopher Scott Grimaldi can currently be seen as host of the nationally syndicated Awesome Adventures and his coming-of-age novel Adult World from Pelorus Press is available in print and ebook formats. www.christopherscottgrimaldi.com